ZSL London Zoo opened the spectacular Land of the Lions exhibit to the public on Easter Friday. The Queen and Prince Philip officially unveiled the Asiatic lion enclosure earlier in the week and we were lucky to be invited to a supplier's preview before doors were opened to the public.
The two year project costing £5.7m, tells the story of the Asiatic Lion over 2,500sqm. Everything you experience and interact with inside the exhibit from signage, to props, the railway, and a bustling little street of shops is all inspired by the real-life land of the lions: India’s Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary also known as Sasan Gin India.
The minute we walked through the grand stone archway into the enclosure we were transported to the exotic world of India. Walking through the Indian village we hear soundscapes of Gujarat street life, visit the Gir Tourist Information Centre to learn about the conservation efforts in India, and to study the beautiful map we printed of the land of Gujarat. You can even pop into the barbers and grab the latest speciality style ‘The Asiatic Mane’ or jump into the Tuk Tuk for a photo whilst you enjoy the culinary tastes of India available at the Amreli street food kiosk.
We worked closely with ZLS’s interpretation developers Natalie Latham and Tom Sears who worked on the design & detail of the exhibit, helping them to produce all the integrated signage and graphic displays you see throughout the exhibit. We printed onto a number of woods, metals and other materials, providing graphic solutions to connect with audiences and to help bring the story of the lions to life.
Next stop, the Sasan Gir Railway station where we encounter the male star of the show Bhanu; one of four Asiatic Lions in the enclosure. The bench you can see inside the station is sourced from India along with many other props and decor you’ll see throughout the exhibition. The recreated railway which runs right though the real Gir Forest furthers our understanding of how these lions live alongside people and will often wander into environments such as villages and railways, and to your surprise, might even run into on the station platform.
From the railway station we take the high road through a rugged cliff designed to resemble the Rocky Girnar Hills in the Gir Forest. And, we get to see our first glimpse of the three female lions Rubi, Heidi and Indi roaming about their surrounds.
The adventure continues through ruins and fallen temples all inspired by India’s ancient buildings; you’ll stumble upon the Hanuman Langhur monkeys along the way and all within a stone’s throw of a pride of lions. There’s even the opportunity to stay overnight at the Gir Lion Lodge for those serious lion lovers.
It has been an absolute privilege to be a part of this incredible Land of the Lions project, and we recommend visiting London Zoo to experience this truly authentic, interactive and educational exhibition.
See all the photos from our visit to the Land of the Lions, and whilst you’re at the Zoo, don’t forget to check-in to the Spiders exhibition, another project we were delighted if not a little frightened to work on for ZSL London Zoo.
Asiatic Lions are fighting for survival; at present due to conservation effort and dedication to the animals, numbers have grown to just over 500 from as little as 20 at the beginning of the century. Yet, there is still more to be done to protect the species and ensure their continued survival. If you would like to become a champion for Asiatic lions and other Animals under threat visit London Zoo’s website to see how you can help.